For some people, age or emotional and physical health issues impact their ability to make smart and safe decisions about their own well-being. When that happens, the court must step in and designate an individual or entity to oversee such decisions for the incapacitated person.
Guardianship is a serious matter and should never be approached without the upmost care and consideration, as the process essentially removes a person’s basic rights. Understanding when guardianship is necessary and how to pursue this option on behalf of someone experiencing mental or physical decline is important.
What It Means to Be Incapacitated
An incapacitated person is an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions in any way is impaired to such a significant extent that they are partially or totally unable to manage financial resources or to meet essential requirements for their physical health and safety. Determining whether a person can make these types of decisions can be challenging. Qualified professionals are enlisted to give their assessment of an individual’s health and financial needs and what may be done, if anything, to help them regain their abilities going forward.
A Guardian’s Duties
If the court determines guardianship is warranted, the guardian’s job is to make decisions on behalf of the ward while simultaneously working to facilitate their independence as much as possible. Guardianship duties are outlined in the related court documents and generally include:
- Continually evaluating the ward’s health and wellness needs and limitations
- Collecting and maintaining all documentation related to the ward’s health care, finances, legal assistance, education, recreation, and personal needs
- Meeting and interacting with the ward’s health care providers
- Managing the ward’s finances, including present expenses and future needs
- Notifying the court of changes in the incapacitated person’s health or needs
While state guidelines for guardianship vary, a guardian is generally a legal adult without a felony or gross misdemeanor offense on their record. If the ward can choose a guardian, the court will usually follow their wishes. If not, the court will appoint one using information contained in a will or durable power of attorney.
Contesting a Guardianship
Some individuals may disagree with the finding of incapacitation and elect to fight a guardianship. Testimony from a health care provider who can attest to their good mental and physical health is the first step in avoiding guardianship. Some individual’s may also challenge a potential guardian’s eligibility for a variety of reasons. For example, maybe that person committed a crime that makes them ineligible or they are not familiar with the ward’s daily needs to make good decisions about their care.
Philadelphia Litigation Lawyers at the Harty Law Group Help Clients with Complex Guardianship Issues
If your loved one is unable to make sounds decisions about their own medical and financial needs, the Philadelphia litigation lawyers at the Harty Law Group can guide you through every step of the guardianship process to protect your family member and give you much needed peace of mind. We also represent clients who have concerns about becoming a ward or the eligibility of a potential guardian. Call us at 267-262-5650 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today. Located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.